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Comelec chief backs authorized wiretapping during polls

Posted On 2014 Jun 10
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Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said former President Gloria Arroyo, seen here with her husband Mike Arroyo (left), and the other elected officials failed to comply with the law by either 1) failing to submit a SOCE 2) failing to sign the submitted SOCE or 3) submitting a signed SOCE that was not in the proper form.

Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said former President Gloria Arroyo, seen here with her husband Mike Arroyo (left), and the other elected officials failed to comply with the law by either 1) failing to submit a SOCE 2) failing to sign the submitted SOCE or 3) submitting a signed SOCE that was not in the proper form.

MANILA, June 10 (Mabuhay) — Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday expressed support for a proposal to authorize wiretapping during elections.

During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Brillantes said Congress should consider amending Republic Act 4200, or the Anti-Wiretapping Law, to ensure that individuals seeking elective posts do not contact poll officials at the height of elections.

“We should really discuss possible amendments to the wiretapping law to ensure na wala talagang tawagan… I think it should be used specifically on national security and others, including elections,” he said.

Brillantes recalled how efforts to prosecute those allegedly involved in fraud during the 2004 presidential polls did not materialize because the controversial “Hello Garci” tapes were wiretapped and inadmissible in court.

“Kaya wala pong nangyari sa Garci because despite the investigation in both houses of Congress, wala pong naging ultimate result ang kaso dahil ho yung conversation, ini-wiretap. Siguro ho we can correct this if we decide to amend the law on the wiretapping,” Brillantes said.

The “Hello Garci” recordings indicated how a woman, believed to be former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, allegedly instructed then-Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to manipulate the poll results so she could win by a million votes over her opponent, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.

Brillantes once served as Poe Jr.’s election lawyer.

Senator Grace Poe, Poe Jr.’s daughter, meanwhile said Congress should ensure that amendments to the anti-wiretapping law will not infringe on citizen’s privacy.

“All parameters should be examined because if they are half-baked we would have to go to these laws again later on,” Poe said during the hearing.

She added that Congress should also consider looking into other forms of communication that can be used for fraud, such as e-mails.

Two weeks ago, Poe delivered a speech where she called for pieces of legislation meant to prevent widespread cheating in the country’s already automated polls. (MNS)

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